This car was purchased by my partner before I met her. It is a 1998 R-registered Marea Weekend 1.8 16v ELX model. Specification wise, it is excellently equipped, to say that this is a low-range model. It has climate control air conditioning, electric front windows, power steering, central locking, rev clock etc. To drive, it is OK. The biggest gripes I have with it are: - It is very underpowered - a 1.8i 16v enine should perform a lot better - It does not handle too well round corners, but then it's hardly a rally-car! - It has no ABS, and locks up far too easily in the wet.- - Engine noise in the cabin is harsh Living with the car on a day to day basis is fairly easy. It is average on fuel economy (approx 30mpg), seats four in comfort, and has a huge boot, with the added advantage of a lowing rear bumper, and stowage compartments in the load area. It is also a comfortable car to drive on a long journey. The stereo is a mixed bag - the original cassette deck unit was OK but expensive to add a CD changer to. I changed this for a Sony CD unit, which improved the sound. The front speakers are reasonable, but the rear ones are a waste of space. Keeping the car on the road is a very expensive game. It is expensive to service, and as I have found to my cost, as the miles mount, it starts to self-distruct, with very expensive consequenses! This car has now covered 115,000 miles. Parts are not cheap, and Halfords rarely stock anything for Fiat models - you end up having to go to the dealer, and they rip you off. Things I have had to do on this car are: - Blown coil (72,000 miles) - £250 repair, plus loads of added fuel consumption - Cambelt change (75,000 miles) - £300 - Blown head-gasket (80,000 miles) - £1800 repair plus 6 weeks off the road - Dear rear wiper motor (110,000 miles) - £130 for part alone! The head-gasket was a killer, and we nearly scrapped the car when that
happened. Basically the engine management light came on on the dashboard one evening. Now this would usually make you stop, however with Fiat's it is common for the engine management light to flash without any meaning whatsoever, so unfortunately you soon get used to ignoring any time that light comes on. 5 miles later, the car lost all power. Basically what had happened was that the impellor on the water pump had fallen off, hence no cooling to the engine, followed by massiave overheat, and nigh on £2000 worth of damage. Unfortunately, Fiat's are not equipped with a safety shut-down mechanism in the event of serious mechanical failure, like other brands are. The under-engine tray fell off a few months ago, and generally that seems to be the way of this car. Things start to come apart, or fail on you. The boot doesn't close properly any more, and if you inadvertently push the handle up on the boot lid while the car is locked, the spring mechanism no longer returns the handle back down, meaning you can't open the boot! Similarly the doors sometimes need a hefty slam to make them shut. The rear air-vent has long since disintegrated. The fuse box panel doesn't shut securely any more either. All this probably contributes to why Fiat's depreciate so heavily. Our car cost £14,000 when new, and is probably only worth £1500 now. A similarly spec'd Mondeo with the same age and mileage would be worth £2,500-£3,500 now. Tyre wear is reaosnable - I get about 45,000 miles per set, and the bodywork seems to stand up well. It is nearly 5 years old, but still gleams when clean, and has no rust, it's just a shame the rest of the car is not given the same level of quality. There is one other really annoying niggle about this car - the upholstery. The carpet and seats simply attract dirt. You can spend a good 2+ hours with a brush and vacuum cleaner trying the clean the inside, yet it still looks dirty. It is simply
not possible to get this car clean inside! Oh, and it steams up really badly in the wet weather! So if you're thinking of buying one, then make sure it's cheap, and don't buy one with high mileage. If you're a low mileage driver, and want a workhorse, they make a reasonable buy. If you're buying a car to last for the long haul, with a quality build, consider a mondeo.
What is it with Fiat? Not content with having the most hideous colour schemes on the roads and the ugliest vehicle on the planet (Multipla in case you hadn't guessed), they also seem to choose their car names from the big book of strange. From the company that gave us the Bravo and Ulysses we are now presented with Marea. Bet you can't say that without wanting to launch into a well known song from West Side Story. Ok, I'm about to get on with the op. This car was another hire car after my SAAB was (yet again) taken in for clutch work. First impressions are that it looks normal, which in itself is unusual for Fiat. Nowt special as we Northerners say, but nothing to actively dislike. I guess this is aimed at the Mondeo/Vectra market, which is probably the toughest sector to be in. If you have read my new Mondeo opinion you will know the Marea has a lot to live up to. On external appearence at least it is not too far wide of the mark. Moving to the inside and, oh deary me! For a start, it seems smaller than its opposition. The next thing that struck me was just how much, and what poor quality, plastic Fiat have thrown into this car. Hard, shiny surfaces abound; almost as if Fiat were not aware things have moved on since the days of the 126. Absolutely nothing is tactile or visually pleasing about the interior. Fiat's designer's really ought to have a good look at the likes of the Mondeo to see what the new standard is. To "complement" the trim, we have some big soft seats covered in a material I last encountered on the number 44 bus to town. The pattern appears to have been taken from fingerprints (maybe those of the criminal who designed this car). I wouldn't like to drive this car much more than a hundred miles as, for me at least, the seats are just not supportive enough. I found it difficult to adjust everything for complete comfort. If my legs were right, the wheel was too far away (an
d vice-versa). One of those occasions when a reach and rake adjustable wheel would pay dividends. The switches are an ergonomic disaster. Nothing seems to be in the right place. Even the lighting switches are spread all over the dash as well as on a stalk. There is also a bizarre little switch which, when pressed, shows the temperature on the small LCD display in the speedometer. Surely a slightly larger display would allow continuous presentation of this function. The radio was one of those built in jobs and was adequate. Bit tricky to figure some of its functions out, and as ugly as the rest of the dashboard. The problem is of course that, if you don't like it then tough, you are stuck with it. Still, I suppose it will never be nicked. So to driving the thing. Actually the drive is one of it's stronger points. The 2.0 HLX as tested is quite a strong performer. It revs willingly with (to me at least) quite a pleasant raspy exhaust note. The box is less like stirring a bowl of porridge than Fiats of old, proving fairly reliable if not quite slick in operation. It corners fairly well and understeers gently as you approach its limits. This is fairly common with softly sprung cars like this. It rides quite well although tends to wallow slightly on some surfaces. Brakes felt a bit wooden on this particular car. Not dangerous you understand, just not really inspiring you to take on a Ferrari around the twisties. I have no idea about fuel consumption but the gauge did drop fairly quickly. Some of that is probably due to me thrashing it everywhere (well, it was a hire car!) but some is also due, I am sure, to the revvy nature of the beast. In top it does just over 20mph per 1000 rpm, making 80mph a fairly tiring 4000rpm drone. My car at those revs would be doing a ton. For me this would be enough to discourage buying this car. A modern car should feel relaxed at speed, and should be relatively economical too. So what did I like about the car? Not a lot really. Maybe 10 years ago it would have been quite good. Actually, even then the late model Cavaliers would have kicked it's skinny Italian bottom. In today's market all I can say is that I hope it is cheap. It certainly felt it!
My husband recently gave up a company car (Vauxhall Vectra 2.0TD Est), and replaced it with a year-old Marea W'end 1.8TD Estate. I'm the primary user, and it's used to transport kids and dogs (and everything else that goes with them). At first, I missed the luxuries of the Vectra (climate control, remote controlled multidisc CD, etc), and found the dashboard controls a bit boring (lack of buttons and lights), I soon got used to it. The clutch and steering are heavier than the old car, which is actually quite reassuring - I actually feel as though I'm driving the car. However, I find the suspension a bit stiff, and occasionaly noisy - sometimes you have to fight around corners - it does lean quite hard. Performance is fine for town driving, but country roads can be a bit of a struggle. The stereo that came with the car soon got replaced with something better, too. But all in all, I'm very happy with the car - considering the fact that children and dogs deny me the pleasure of an Alfa GTV. Jeff writes: I like this car. I like Italian cars - but they're not forgiving creatures like Deutschwagons and Repmobiles. I hate diesels, but they're cheap to run and maintain. I hate estates, but they're a necessary evil if you have kids and animals. My only complaint about this car is that I think the power-steering is still too powerful, and that I have time things more carefully to get the benefit of the turbo. The common complaint about the ride and suspension stiffeness is fair, if you're used to driving cars which isolate you from the road. Personally, I like it, as it gives me quite a lot of feedback. The guy who complained about the car chucking his passengers around - he was cornering too hard and fast for an estate car. If you like regular cars in the German-style, or in Ford/GM flavour, think twice about this. If you like ca
rs that give feedback, and require some attention, the the Marea W'end is a top bargain.
I borrowed one of these recently to take my family to the airport (three adults, two tiny children and all the luggage that goes with that lot for 2 weeks!). The Weekend is the estate version of the Marea and it does offer a huge amount of boot space. We managed to fit 3 suitcases, 2 overnight bags, 2 nappy bags and 2 push chairs into the boot of mine. OK so it wasn't easy and fitting it all in felt like some kind of test from the Krypton Factor, but we did get it all in. There is plenty of seat room in the Marea and plenty of leg room too. It is a large car, on the inside and on the outside with a fairly long nose and high, chunky boot. The interior trim is quite a good spec. for a middle of its range car. It has plush seating with a split rear seat and rear arm rest. All seats have head rests and there are three diagonal seat belts in the back. There is a CD player as standard along with Aircon, manual sunroof, electric front windows, power assisted steering, anti-lock braking and driver's airbag. The dash and console are a bit plastic looking but on the whole the car does not look too bad at all. However, at full load capacity it turns into an absolute shed. One corner at 15 miles ph and all passengers have their faces squashed up against one side of the car and you, as the driver, feel as if you are struggling to keep control of the car. It has no speed at all and I found it very difficult to pull away from junctions. Considering estate cars are designed specifically to be taking a full load, it handled horribly. I wasn't very impressed at all. I also noticed that it was not economical on fuel. Again, this may have been exacerbated by the fact that I was carrying a full load but I do not think you would get far on a tank of petrol with only a driver. On the whole I would not recommend this car as it does not do the job it was designed to do very well at all.
I owned one of these for over two years, it proved very reliable with no mechanical failures. The service costs were fixed but fairly expensive and I didn't find the dealer network particularly friendly, they seemed to have a "sell em cheap and then abandon em" policy. The worst thing about this car was the horrible amount of squeaky plastic that chirped constantly when driving on anything other than a billiard table, oh yes, lets not forget the rubbish quality inbuilt radio which came without any rear speakers. I thought that it looked the buisiness from the front but that rear view is so boring compared to either the bravo or brava. rear legroom is tight but it has a centre armrest which helps to seperate the kids during extended wrestling matches. The last nasty shock I had from my Fiat Marea was when I returned to the dealer twenty six months later to be told that my £13000 one owner low mileage pride and joy was now worth less than £5500 I didn't buy another !!